AS the war in Ukraine is due to complete its sixth month, with almost 50,000 people killed, there is no indication that its endgame is anywhere near. Addressing a conference in Moscow on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the US and the West, claiming that America wants to drag out the war in Ukraine. He once again accused the US of trying to maintain its hegemonic standing in the world and that the West wanted to extend its “bloc system” of defense, such as the NATO military alliance, into Asia. He also cited the new military alliances such as AUKUS, a trilateral security pact between Australia, the UK and the US. The Russian president reiterated his justification of the war, saying its aim was “to ensure the security of Russia and our citizens.” Incidentally, Putin also criticized US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan which angered China, saying it was “an insolent demonstration of disrespect for the sovereignty of other countries and for its international obligations.”
If anything, Putin’s speech shows, as does the approach of the west, that the war is set to go on for now. Neither is willing to blink as the geopolitical stakes are too high. The US-led western military alliance NATO has so far ensured that Ukraine forces put up tough resistance to the advancing Russian army. The US and major European countries have supplied Ukraine with generous military aid to better defend itself against Russian aggression. The West has also got Russia’s neighbours like Finland and Sweden to join NATO. The development has further riled Russia which opposes the expansion of NATO right up to its borders, a position that became the trigger for its invasion of Ukraine.
The situation, meanwhile, is becoming fraught. Russian troops already control swathes of Ukrainian territory to the east. One of its aims seems to be to dislodge the current Ukrainian government and install a Russia-friendly dispensation. Russia’s objectives are unlikely to stop there. It also wants guarantees from NATO to stop its eastward expansion and the latter is loathe to do so for reasons that this could jeopardize its global military dominance. This makes the situation very complicated and not amenable to an early solution. More so, when the west has already put economic sanctions on Russia and is contemplating more of them. The solution to the evolving fraught situation can be resolved if the US-led West and Russia sit down and work towards addressing each other’s grievances and fears.
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